Gun salutes marked the beginning of the period of mourning for Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, as Britons gathered to Royal residences to pay their respects.
Prince Philip, the longest-serving consort, died in his sleep on Friday, April 9th, 2021, at Windsor Castle, just two months before his 100th birthday.
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) April 10, 2021
Union flags are flying at half staff at Buckingham Palace and all other Royal residences, with all government buildings doing likewise until 8:00 am on the day after the Prince’s funeral.
The Royal Standard, which is flown when the Queen is in residence, is never at half-staff, representing the continuity of the Monarchy.
On Friday, the bells of Westminster Abbey tolled 99 times, to mark every year of the Duke of Edinburgh’s life.
At noon on Saturday, saluting batteries fired 41 rounds, one every minute, from London, Belfast, Cardiff, and Edinburgh as well as in Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory on the tip of the Iberian Peninsula bordering with Spain.
HMS Diamond, HMS Montrose, and HMNB Portsmouth at sea also fired gun salutes in tribute to the former naval officer who served in the theatre of combat during World War Two and held the position of Lord High Admiral.
On the Royal Family’s website, it is explained: “The tradition of Gun Salutes being fired throughout the country to mark significant national events dates back to at least the eighteenth century, and there are historical records of salutes taking place as early as the 14th century when guns and ammunition began to be adopted more widely. Similar gun salutes were fired to mark the death of Queen Victoria in 1901.”
The website adds: “In London, The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery will use the same guns that were fired for Her Majesty The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh’s Wedding in 1947, and at The Queen’s Coronation in 1953.”
Arrangements for the funeral, codenamed Forth Bridge, are expected to be released this weekend. The funeral will take place at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.
Events will likely be scaled back due to coronavirus restrictions. The Duke of Edinburgh was known to have asked for a low-key funeral. In line with his wishes, Prince Philip will not be lying in state and it is understood he will receive a royal ceremonial funeral rather than a state funeral.
While Britons were asked not to gather due to ongoing coronavirus restrictions, mourners came out to pay their respects to Prince Philip, who had been at the Queen’s side for 73 years, leaving flowers and tributes at Royal residences.
Speaking during a BBC tribute aired on Friday, Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, and Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, spoke warmly of their father.
Prince Charles said: “Well you know he didn’t suffer fools gladly, so if you said anything that was in any way ambiguous he’d say ‘make up your mind’.
“So perhaps it made one choose your words carefully.
“He was very good at showing you how to do things and would instruct you in various things.”
Princess Anne said she remembered her father “always being there”, adding: “I will best remember him as always being there and a person you could bounce off ideas, but if you were having problems you could always go to him and know that he would listen and try to help.”
On Saturday, the Royal Family’s official Twitter account shared a quote from Her Majesty from 1997, the year of her golden wedding anniversary, where she spoke of her husband: “He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know.”
The Queen and the Royal Family are expected to go into a period of mourning, which could last several weeks.